Mayor John Tory is announcing his support for keeping the King Street pilot project a fixture of Toronto transit.
This comes on the same day a city staff report recommended making the transit project permanent.
“I firmly believe it is time now to make the pilot project permanent, as the report recommends, so that we can further build up and improve King Street into the excellent, dedicated transit corridor that our city needs,” Tory told the media Tuesday morning.
“By proceeding with this giant step forward and investing in King Street’s future, we are doing exactly the right thing for our residents – especially those who use transit along the street. It’s the right thing for King Street and it’s the right thing for our city as a whole.”
Tory said he will be voting to make the King Street pilot project permanent when it comes to city council later this year.
The mayor, along with city councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Joe Cressy, touted the success of the 18-month project, which gives streetcars priority along King Street from Jarvis Street to Bathurst Street.
Numbers presented by Cressy showed that over the duration of the project, the King Street route has increased its daily ridership by more than 12,000 riders to an average of 84,000 commuters.
“Eighty-four-thousand people now ride the King car every single day. That is like building a subway in a weekend,” Cessy said.
“We are now moving three per cent more people in the entire downtown core, meanwhile the number of cars in the downtown core has gone down, which says people moved out of cars and on to transit. That’s success.”
And while the project has been good news to transit riders, not everyone has seen it as a positive.
Throughout the transit project several businesses in the area have gone up against the city, saying their restaurants have seen a drop in customers because of the project. Earlier this month, the owner of the Kit Kat restaurant organized a street hockey game to protest the pilot project.
Tory said that city officials have studied the pilot all the way through and have continued to make adjustments. He added that the impact on drivers was “minimal” in terms of travel time.
Watch the mayor’s full comments below.